This is the season when we usually turn reasonable- weigh the pros and cons, and pick the best candidate, regardless of party affiliation. Surely few would say Seattle Weekly is politically conservative (at least not by national standards), but neither have we been doctrinaire liberals (certainly not by Seattle standards). We've tended to be an independent, vote-for-the-best-candidate kind of paper.
But this year is different. Before you read on in our election endorsement package, know this: In 1998, we recommend (and think the times demand) a partisan vote. We're pulling the lever for a straight ticket, punching our ballot "D" for Democrat. Let us say it again, with some urgency: We've looked at the candidates and issues, we've surveyed the state and national political landscape, and it scares us shitless. Vote Democrat.
If we gave in to our deeper fears, we might suggest that every citizen with a college diploma and a liberal lean in their politics form a left-wing militia; we might argue that it's time to buy guns and send money to Alan Gottlieb. If you've ever doubted there is a threat to freedom in this country, believe it now. Yes, Bill Clinton has carved away at various amendments to get more powers for the federal cops and the drug warriors; yes, Republicans have pushed national ID cards and Internet censorship; yes, far-right terrorists stalk lesbians, gays, and abortion clinics in the heartland.
But the biggest threats are the public proceedings in the other Washington. Grant, if you wish, that Bill Clinton is an adulterous liar (we knew that when he was elected in 1992—didn't you?). And let's stipulate that he is a man who has behaved badly, and deserves punishment. But the Ken Starr/congressional witch hunt is a cure worse than any disease Clinton passed on to the body politic. It is no less than the lynching Clarence Thomas decried. In fact, it's even worse than that: This man is an elected president, not a political appointee.
The private bone-headedness of Slick Willy is harmless in comparison with the relentless Republican effort to overturn an election by means of their McCarthyesque manipulation of the legal and politi-cal system. From government shut-downs to kangaroo courts, in both policy and tactics, the GOP-controlled Congress has employed the sanctimoniously sage face of Henry Hyde (or, more to the local point, Rick White) to mask the politics and agenda of no less a paranoid lunatic than former Congressman Bob Dornan.
What can we do? First, we can try to fight back with the legal, elective means at our disposal. We can send Democrat representatives to Congress to help stop the show trial and the tribunals. Vote for Jay Inslee. Vote for Adam Smith. Vote for Margarethe Cammermeyer. Vote for Brian Baird. Second, we can help impanel a "juror" who has not already declared her support for the coup. Perhaps she can rise to the occasion and play the kind of role Scoop Jackson did in helping bring down Joseph McCarthy. Vote Patty Murray for US Senate.
But we don't want to stop there. Since 1994, our legislature has become a joke, filled with righteous right-wingers for whom even the current Republican Party—one of the most conservative conservative parties in the western world—is too pinko. They send us Linda Smith and Ellen Craswell, they support all-out attacks on abortion rights and affirmative action, they decry "favors" for the poor, but are eager to share the state's largess with big business interests and billionaires (too many Democrats do the last as well).
But this is a send-a-message election: To stop the madness in Olympia, we urge a strong Democratic turnout; we ask soccer moms and dads to support Democratic legislative candidates in their suburban swing districts.
Nothing will be accomplished with subtlety. Those tempted by Socialist and Reform Party candidates can have a more effective protest vote this year by following the example of Michael Moore and other lefties and outsiders by voting for Democrats this season. There are, of course, many issues at stake: the future of education funding, so-called welfare reform, regulation of growth and the environment, management of the economy. And there is also a host of ballot measures that are tricky and specific, and that could have wide-ranging and permanent impact on our state (for our take on these, see the next page). So, for the sake of these issues and measures, get out and vote. And most of all, let's help restore sanity to Olympia and Washington. Send an unambiguous message by saying "no" to impeachment madness and the politics of diversion. Vote the Big D Ticket and tell the GOP where to put it.
Either that, or start your militia today.